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Joint Letter to Obama Re: Abortion Restrictions on United States Foreign Aid

We are writing to urge you to lift the abortion ban attached to United States (US) foreign aid, including aid for girls and women who are victims of conflict-related sexual violence. The US abortion ban is a major reason that female war rape victims around the world are being denied abortions in humanitarian medical facilities. As the world’s single largest aid donor, the US imposes its abortion ban on nearly all of the main providers of medical care for war victims, including the conflict countries themselves, multilateral organizations such as the United Nations, and non-governmental organizations.

This is a matter of utmost urgency as recently demonstrated by the use of rape and forced impregnation by extremist groups such as ISIL and Boko Haram as tactics of warfare to further their ideological goals. The denial of abortions violates the right of female war rape victims to non-discriminatory medical care, as well as the right to be free from cruel treatment and torture under international humanitarian law.

At the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the US before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in May 2015, five countries made formal recommendations for the US to take action on its abortion ban: France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Norway, and the Netherlands. We urge you to accept these recommendations and issue an executive order:

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